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Procurement: combining the best of all worlds

Our global and regional Procurement teams are in a unique position. As well as working with all the areas of our business, they also have an external view, liaising with suppliers and introducing new ideas from the outside world.

It’s not just about finding the best price for the raw materials that go into our products. Many of our teams are involved in indirect procurement – dealing with areas such as advertising agencies, asset creation, temporary staff, employee benefits, insurance or outplacement and relocation services. It’s about contributing to strategy, introducing innovations, championing new ideas, improving efficiency and ultimately, ensuring Mondelēz International’s competitive advantage.

Here, two of our team tell us about how they’re helping us to meet the exciting procurement challenges we face.

Nigel Stewart

Professional Services Sourcing Lead (MEU)

Nigel looks after indirect procurement in a number of global spend areas. Indirect procurement covers buying everything associated with the running of the business, such as contingency labor, consultancy services, recruitment, employee benefits or outsourcing. His specific remit covers global contingency labor, consultancy services and Research & Development services.

Nigel Stewart

Making labor work for us

Up until April 2016 I had a European role and then I took over the global sourcing lead for contingency labor and Research & Development services. One of the biggest projects I’ve led so far was looking at how we source contingency labor globally. First, I needed to understand the marketplace – for example, what is going on from an employment law/legislation point of view in addition to what is happening in relation to the sourcing of contingency labor globally, in terms of new ideas and innovation. Once I had a better understanding of the marketplace, I then worked with our business stakeholders to construct our future strategy for the management and souring of contingency labor. It was evident from our market research that we had an opportunity to move away from our current local tactical approach to a more global strategic approach, which would deliver a number of benefits such as providing better access to talent, improved control and visibility of our contingency workforce, and delivering substantial savings over a 3-year period.

We conducted a global request for information in line with or global strategy to select the best possible suppliers/partners to work with as part of our future global contingency labor strategy. We presented our strategy to our global leadership, which received very positive feedback, with the aim of being implemented in the near future when the timing is right for our business.

Developing relationships

As with any sourcing project, you have to understand the market dynamics and the key suppliers operating in that area of expertise. Generally you find a mix of local, regional and global players all providing very similar services but to a different scale. Due to the scale of the MDLZ contingency labor business, we were already sourcing from a number of the large global players with operations in a number of different countries and regions. In the world of contingency labor no one supplier can cover all your requirements globally so it’s important to understand the supplier global footprint and capabilities across all the regions. As MDLZ has been sourcing contingency labor over a number of years, the supplier relationship already existed, but generally at a local level. As part of my global responsibility, it was important to establish global relationships with the key global suppliers. Typically, I will have monthly calls with my largest supplier and would meet face to face at least twice a year where possible to conduct business reviews. Building internal stakeholder relationships is another important factor for any procurement professional. When you move into a new business area, you need to form close working relationships with the relevant people so you can quickly get up to speed with the subject matter and understand the business needs and objectives. The earlier you involve your stakeholders in the strategy/business case, the easier it is to make the project a success and gain buy-in from senior management. For example, we had two key business stakeholders working with us on the global contingency labor-souring project, both of whom played an invaluable role in making sure the project delivered the business needs.

Bringing the outside in

What excites me most about my role is that I get the chance to see both our internal business challenges and the external supply market challenges. I have the unique opportunity to understand what’s happening in the external marketplace and how the suppliers we work with are managing these challenges for other clients… If there are new innovations, or better ways of doing things. In all our supplier relationships, we challenge them to make sure that they help us simplify and improve our on-going business, so we stay competitive in the marketplace.

My other source of bringing the outside in is to attend industry-networking or best practice events. Again, it is a way of staying ahead of the competition and getting as much insight as you can to new ideas & innovative practices as soon as you can. For me, that’s what Procurement is all about – innovating and bringing those new ideas to the business. So, if there's something new in the market or something new from one of our suppliers, we want to share it with the business. Clearly, we would go through a process of understanding whether it’s fit for purpose and meets our business needs as part of our sourcing process. Ultimately, the aim is to help to streamline our business, make it more efficient and increase competitiveness so we’re better prepared to move forward.

Building a career

To date I’ve have a varied and interesting career within Mondelēz International, having had the opportunity to work in number of different functions such as Operations, Supply Chain and Procurement. Even within Procurement, I have had the opportunity to work within different indirect spend categories at all levels, local, regionally, and now globally with my current scope. I’ve had my global responsibilities for eight months, so for me, at the moment, my career is about continuing to build on my global projects and sourcing experience as most of my previous procurement experience was locally/regionally based.

Mondelēz International is an excellent environment for building a career. With our new globally focused Procurement structure, it creates a huge amount of opportunity with new challenging roles to build on your existing knowledge base, which is exactly the journey I have been on for the past 8 months. Sometimes you just have to be brave enough to step outside of your comfort zone, and grasp the opportunities as they come.

Antonella Avella

Procurement Marketing and Sales Strategy Lead, Europe

Antonella joined the MEU Research, Development, Quality and Innovation (RDQI) Center in Munich, Germany in 2000 and moved into Procurement three years later. Since then, she’s had a number of roles in this area, from Buyer for the Cheese and Grocery category, to Procurement Innovation and Category Lead External Manufacturing and Capex (Capital Expenditure). Now she’s in a Marketing and Sales strategy role, which includes everything from agencies and media, to point-of-sale and Merchandising, Consumer insights.

Antonella Avella

Setting our business course

In my previous roles, I was in charge of defining the sourcing strategy for products sourced externally (meaning not produced in a MDLZ factory), and working closely with teams in Business Development, Research, Development, Quality & Innovation (RDQI), and Finance to run ‘Make or Buy’ studies to define the best sourcing locations. My current role is more strategic. Essentially, I represent Marketing and Sales on the European Procurement Leadership Team and work closely with Marketing Operations team to identify Optimization initiatives within the Advertising & Consumer spend area, and drive them in partnership with the Marketing community. It is key to align business needs with our Procurement strategies and to drive towards the same objectives. Obviously we have quite challenging Productivity targets, and margin agenda is a key priority. But our Marketing & Sales Procurement organization also wants to support the growth agenda, developing Digital capabilities through preferred strategic partners and stepping up our relationships with our key Agencies in order to drive more value from our suppliers. We also believe in the power of ‘Fewer Bigger Better’ and we drive a simplification Agenda towards a leaner vendor portfolio.

For me, Procurement at MDLZ is a lot about leading in partnership with the business. We need to have a common agenda with the business, that’s crucial. For example, if we want to consolidate and get more value from our agencies, it is important to align with all the relevant Marketing and Sales leaders to get their buy-in, so we can implement the strategy and have a Win-Win outcome. It is not only about savings, it’s also ensuring we step up the Quality and the service we need to grow the business and look at End-to-End Optimization Opportunities.

Ultimately, it’s about being a trusted partner and leading from the front. We negotiate the best deals for both Mondelēz International and our suppliers and bring in new ideas and new ways of working to support and advance the business.

The art of negotiation

For me, one of the most exciting part of my role is negotiating. If you think about it, most people go through some form of negotiation in their everyday life, with their partner or their kids. In the end, negotiation is part of us.

In business, I believe negotiation relies on preparation. You have to aim for a win/win, because that’s the only way you can make it work sustainably. So you need to go into the negotiation understanding your supplier’s needs and motivations, which might not just be cost. Then you can balance what you want from your supplier with what you’ll give them in return.

It’s the same in my current role, negotiating with internal Marketing and Sales people on implementing our strategy. It’s about teamwork and getting people engaged with your ideas. If you don’t get their buy-in, you can’t move anything forward, so you need to strive for a win-win partnership. We’re a complex organization and it can be difficult sometimes but that’s the fun we have! And what is very important is to never give up. During my 16 years with MDLZ I have seen many ideas coming back and being implemented in the end. That’s because it is important to be at the right time with your idea…

Developing new products

Another exciting part of working in Procurement is to be the “Eye of the company” in the outside world. We’re involved right the way through the development of a new product. For example, in my previous role, my team was involved in developing the Dairylea Lunchables Pizza Pepperoni in the UK.

We started by defining which country offered us the best costs for sourcing. Then we worked closely with Marketing and R&D to define how the product should look. It’s a three-part product – the cheese, cracker and meat sit in their own compartments. So, we worked with our suppliers to develop the right flavor cracker, the right size and shape of meat and the right nutritional values. Then we liaised with the packaging supplier so they could guarantee the best shelf-life.

All the time, we worked with Quality to ensure the suppliers were audited and had the right checks in place. For example, because it was for the UK market and targeted at children, we had to ensure the product met strict nutritional needs, while meeting the flavor profile that would appeal to kids and having the right shelf life. There were also cost implications.

It turned out to be a very popular line that grew very quickly, so we also had to look at manufacturing capacity and reducing down time on the line to meet demand.

During my time in Procurement Innovation, I led several Innovation sessions with suppliers in order to get new ideas to feed the Innovation Pipeline.

So, as you can see, Procurement is involved at every stage of product innovation.

Learning all the time

I love to keep on learning and I’m enjoying what I'm doing. For me, that's the only way you can be successful. Procurement has connections to every part of our business. So, as long as you’re keen to learn and can communicate with people at all levels, you can quickly become involved in negotiations that have a noticeable impact on our Top and bottom line.

Learning is an ongoing process. You’re expected to learn while doing most of the time, so you need the confidence to find the people and resources that can help you learn. This often stretches your skills, but you learn a lot. That’s what happened to me when I moved from Quality to Procurement with no commercial experience. For a scientist it was a huge stretch, but I learned on the job. It’s the same with my current role – I had no marketing or sales background. But there’s so much knowledge here and you just need the ability and willingness to tap into it and learn from the people around you.

Favorite product?

Philadelphia is in my heart – it was the first brand I worked on when I joined and I’m a heavy user! My kids are the same – they grew up with pasta and Philadelphia!